NEWARK, N.J. — Five days after Hurricane Sandy demolished the Eastern Seaboard on Oct. 29, 2012, and left the state of New Jersey in particularly horrific disarray, an exhausted Christopher Durkin listened in on a conference call while sitting in his black 2010 Chevy Malibu, charging his cell phone outside his darkened, juice-less home.
Durkin was one of 21 county clerks who had been urged to join the hastily arranged call by Robert Giles, the state’s director of elections, who had promised an important announcement. Giles gave many of them a preview of what the coming days would be like, shortly before the lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, came on the line.
“Put your phones on mute,” he said, according to several clerks on the call. “The lieutenant governor will not entertain questions.” The week, no doubt, had been grueling for all. And it was about to get even more challenging.